Thessaloniki city birding
Shags and cormorants roosting at the Old Port © μ2
Like any other city, Thessaloniki is not extremely hospitable for birds and wildlife in general… However the city is surrounded by extensive wetlands, forests and agricultural areas which in combination with the sea front provide a rich mosaic. There are several interesting species using the city for passage, or as a wintering or breeding site.
The Hellenic Ornithological Society has published in 2014 the “Bird identification Guide of Τhessaloniki” (unfortunately only in Greek). There are more than 140 species recorded in the city, with the coastline in front of the White Tower, the surrounding parks and the campus of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, being the most interesting habitats.
All three species of swifts (common, alpine and pallid) are nesting in the very center, whereas Dalmatian and White pelicans are not uncommonly seen at the seafront or flying over the regional bus station. Black-necked grebes, Pygmy cormorants, Mute swans and Red-breasted mergansers are species to look for in the winter seascape, while Caspian and Sandwich terns as well as Mediterranean Gulls are quite common in spring.
The old city walls host Hoopoes, Little Owls and Sparrowhawks, while Scops owls, Syrian woodpeckers and Nightingales inhabit the few available green spaces of the city. Before the renovation of the seafront, Barn Owls used to be a common sighting, still being observed in some spots.